Dissolving a marriage (divorce) in New Zealand, we explain the steps.

June 1, 2024
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Untying the Knot: Understanding Dissolution of Marriage in New Zealand
The breakdown of a marriage is never easy. In New Zealand, the process of legally dissolving a marriage is known as “dissolution.” This blog post provides a comprehensive overview of this process, guiding you through the steps involved and offering essential information to help you navigate this difficult time.
Initiating the Dissolution Process
The first step towards dissolving your marriage is filing an application for dissolution with the Family Court.  It’s crucial to note that you and your spouse must have been living separately for at least two years before applying for dissolution. Exceptions exist for situations involving domestic violence or adultery.
If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your separation, including the division of assets and parenting arrangements, you can file a joint application. However, if you have unresolved issues, you’ll need to file separate applications and attend mediation sessions to attempt reaching an agreement.
Addressing Key Considerations
Division of Property: One of the most significant aspects of dissolution is dividing your assets and liabilities fairly. This includes everything from the family home and vehicles to bank accounts, investments, and debt. If you and your spouse can’t agree on the division of property, the Family Court will make a decision based on factors such as each party’s contributions to the marriage and their future needs.
Parenting Arrangements: If you have children with your spouse, creating a parenting plan outlining custody arrangements, child support, and access is crucial. The Family Court prioritises the children’s best interests when making decisions about parenting arrangements.
Spousal Maintenance: In some cases, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance to the other. This is usually considered when there is a significant disparity in the parties’ incomes or earning capacities due to the marriage. The Family Court assesses various factors like the length of the marriage, each party’s age and health, and their ability to become self-supporting when determining spousal maintenance.
Finalising the Dissolution
Once all relevant issues have been addressed, and both parties agree on the terms of the dissolution, the Family Court will grant a final decree. This decree legally dissolves your marriage, bringing it to an official end. The dissolution process can be emotionally challenging and complex. Seeking legal advice and support from family and friends is crucial during this difficult time. Remember, understanding the process and your options can empower you to navigate this significant life change with greater confidence.